SOUTH EUCLID – DeQuan Abrom sent Urbana University men’s basketball to the postseason on Saturday after his last-second 3-pointer lifted the Blue Knights past Notre Dame College, 91-88. The Blue Knights snapped a nine-game losing streak against the Falcons while setting a program record for most wins during the school’s NCAA Division II-era.
With the win, UU (12-16, 7-15 MEC) earned the ninth seed in this week’s Mountain East Conference Tournament and will take on the home team No. 8 seed Charleston (14-14, 8-14 MEC) in the opening round. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. Wednesday inside the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston, West Virginia.
Abrom scored a career-high 31 points and came up clutch in the final moments in what turned out to be a must-win scenario for UU following UVa-Wise’s victory over Concord.
The freshman guard tied the game on a layup with 32 seconds left (87-87) and then UU forced an offensive foul on Notre Dame’s Will Vorhees, who made the basket on the foul in what would have been his 50th point. With the clock winding down, Abrom knocked down the final trey from the top of the key with two seconds left on the clock.
Junior Carlas Jackson buried a career-high eight threes, including five in the first half, while recording a season-high 28 points on the day. Sophomore Jahmere Howze stepped up his game with 16 of his 19 points coming in the second half. Howze also drew the charge on Vorhees that set up Abrom’s game-winner. Junior AJ Washington made his presence felt by pulling down a team-high 11 boards.
NDC’s Vorhees dominated the Blue Knights with 48 points on 20 made field goals and registered a double-double with 12 boards. However, UU contained the rest of the Falcons and limited the hosts to only six made threes while UU knocked down 13 treys.
The Blue Knights were fortunate not to let the contest slip away after allowing the Falcons to overcome an 18-point deficit. UU led 63-45 when Abrom hit a three with 14:43 left in regulation and seemed to have all the momentum.
However, the Falcons chipped away by going to Vorhees often in the post. NDC trimmed the deficit to seven at the under-10 media timeout, 73-66, and then resumed a 13-3 run after the stoppage. The Falcons tied the score at 73-73 on a Vorhees free throw with just over seven minutes to play.
Then, the two teams went back-and-forth in a slugfest that featured eight lead changes and six tied scores the rest of the way.
Howze flushed a dunk with 4:51 and then was called for a technical foul after exaggerating the play, leading to a pair of Falcon free throws to tie the game 81-81 at the final media break.
After trading points again, Vorhees finally gave NDC a two-point lead, 87-85, with only 49 seconds to play. Abrom answered with a runner in the paint to make it 87-87 with 39 seconds to go, which set up the offensive foul on NDC’s next possession followed by the winning shot.
With a 90-87 lead, UU fouled with four seconds left to avoid a potential game-tying three. Vorhees made the front end and was forced to miss the second, but the Falcons were called for a lane violation.
Abrom then added a free throw at the other end and the Falcons failed to get a final shot off.
UU led 48-40 at halftime after going up as much as 13 in the first half.
The Blue Knights held an overall 41-39 edge on the glass and finished 16 of 21 at the free-throw line.
UU women lose
SOUTH EUCLID – The Urbana University women’s basketball team suffered a 65-55 defeat at Notre Dame College Saturday in the season finale for the Blue Knights.
UU closes the door on the 2016-17 season with an overall record of 6-20 (3-29 MEC). Notre Dame improved to 14-12 (13-8 MEC).
Freshman Sylvia Hudson led the Blue Knights with 16 points and seven rebounds while sophomore Erin Morrow scored a season-high 13 points and hauled down seven boards. Junior Stefanie Davis also reached double figures with 11 points.
The Blue Knights shot 47 percent overall but struggled from three-point range by making just 3 of 16 shots from beyond the arc. Turnovers were destructive as UU gave the ball away 28 times, leading to 30 Notre Dame points.
Kelsey Miller led the Falcons with a game-high 22 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. NDC shot 42 percent and hit just two threes on 12 attempts.
UU led 26-25 at halftime and stayed out in front by a point, 36-35, near the end of the third frame. Then, the Falcons began to deflate the Blue Knights on run-outs, finishing the quarter with an 8-0 spurt to lead UU 43-36 heading to the fourth.
The Falcons continued to build the momentum and eventually pieced together a vigorous 21-0 run into the fourth, which put NDC ahead 56-36.
A pair of Erin Morrow free throws patched the bleeding with 5:46 left in the game. Then, UU got back to within single digits on a Davis layup to make the score 58-49 Falcons with under three minutes left in regulation.
UU trimmed the deficit to eight with 53 seconds to play, 61-53, but that was as close as the Knights would get.